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Patience rewarded for Barnsley
 Women's Football Regional Premier North East News - 2 Jun 2017
 
 
Regional Premier North East News - Patience rewarded for Barnsley - 2 Jun 2017 - Women's Football News
 
As a club, 2016-17 has proved Barnsley's best season to date.
 
The major success was in finishing North East League Premier Division Champions and so gaining promotion to the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division One.
 
They also reached the League Cup final where a 3-2 win over Wallsend completed the double. It was almost a treble on the silverware front, but Barnsley narrowly failed to successfully defend the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA Women's Challenge Cup, losing 2-1 in the final to higher ranked Huddersfield Town whom they had beaten 4-2 in the 2016 final.
 
Barnsley's Development team (aka Reserves) finished runners-up in the Sheffield & Hallamshire County League Division Two, while their girls teams enjoyed much success in the lower spread of age groups in the County Girls League.
 
The season started with League Cup progress at the expense of Altofts and then Oughtibridge, while the first league fixture pitted Barnsley at home to Norton & Stockton Ancients who were returning to the League after a two-season spell in the FAWPL.
 
Barnsley lost 2-1 and for much of the season it looked as if that would be as significant a result as the 2-1 home defeat Barnsley suffered against eventual champions Brighouse Town in 2015-16.
 
Barnsley then reeled off four straight wins, culminating in a 6-0 home victory over York, but then lost 3-2 when the return fixture was played a week later. York had done their homework. Maximum points from the next four games was followed by a third defeat, at home to Wallsend, a result which firmly swayed the odds in favour of Norton who then dropped their first points of the season when beaten 2-1 by York just before Christmas.
 
With Scunthorpe & Bottesford (who also started the season strongly) fading several weeks in, the title was a two-horse race, just as it had been a season earlier.
 
So, at the turn of the year, Barnsley were top having been beaten three times while Norton, with games in hand, had suffered just the one defeat. So, even if Barnsley won in the return meeting with Norton, which they did handsomely by a 4-1 margin in April, their title hopes rested upon Norton losing at least one other game as well as Barnsley not dropping any further points.
Barnsley kept their side of the bargain, but Norton were also in near unbeatable form. Norton, who only needed a point from their final game at Castleford, crashed 3-0 in a fixture played a week before Barnsley concluded their own league programme with a short trip to Oughtibridge where a ninth straight maximum secured the title.
 
In almost surreal circumstances, partly caused by cycling's Tour of Yorkshire and potential traffic issues, the Barnsley players were at Oughtibridge over 90 minutes before kick off. It had been the club's annual presentation the previous night, but with stakes high, the players had had to refrain from celebrations (since "rectified").
 
Oughtibridge did their best to upset their neighbours, keeping the scores level until shortly before the interval, but a 3-0 win saw Barnsley reach a century of league goals in securing the title.
 
Manager Ian Clark was confident Barnsley could beat Oughtibridge, and he admitted that the crucial result was Castleford's victory of a week earlier.
 
As for the future, Barnsley are looking onwards and upwards, greatly encouraged by the showing of Brighouse and with greater support from the men's side of operations at Oakwell further progress is certainly possible, especially if Barnsley can keep hold of their star players. However, they showed that they can cope as they overcame the loss of Charley Evans (to Huddersfield) last season.
 
So, having finished runners up twice, third three times and fourth twice in the previous eight seasons, Barnsley at last finished top of the tree. They have previously played at the "same" level with two seasons in the former Northern Combination in the mid-2000s.
 
Barnsley recorded double figure victories on three occasions, including the division's top score of 13-0 at home to East Yorkshire Carnegie whom they also beat 11-2 away.
Barnsley, who scored in every game (apart from an "awarded" fixture), boasted the division's top scorer in Brittany Sanderson and the teenager was one of several Barnsley players who also enjoyed a trophy laden season with the Barnsley College team which also included Amy Woodruff who scored 15 league goals plus three more in the cup, including the winner in the final against Wallsend.
 
Also reaching double figures were Holly Findlay and Drew Greene, while Lucy Turner was a key performer defensively.
 
Report and photo by Julian Barker
 

 
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